Install Mac OS X Mavericks from USB

It's really easy.

Why would you do it?

  1. Do it on many machines without downloading Mavericks time and again.
  2. Do it on a machine that it not working proper in terms of its Mac OS X install.
  3. Do it on a machine where you want to flatten the old Mac OS X.
  4. Do it on a machine that refuses to install in the normal way so that you like to flatten.
For instance, I had a 10.6 machine where the installer would fail because the existing partition was found to be non-usable. Apparently, this is a common problem also covered by the Apple KB. My partition was a standard one, as far as I can tell.

How to prepare a USB install drive?

A somewhat verbose story is given elsewhere:

If you know sudo, then it is trivial:
  1. Format the USB stick with Disc Utility; call it "Untitled" say.
  2. Just download Maverick (as if you wanted to install it).
  3. Run the following sudo command that prepares the USB drive in a few minutes.
sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app --nointeraction

So basically, the installer has this great API to create an install drive!

How to install from the USB drive?

  1. Insert the USB drive into the computer.
  2. Boot and press "option" to see the list of boot devices.
  3. Select the USB drive.
This would launch the installer.

How to reset and install?

If you want to run disk utilities (in order to flatten the previous system), press the "R" key right after having selected the USB drive. This would start the recovery partition on the USB drive, which gives you access to the disk utilities. In this manner, you can, for example, format the old drive and thus prepare for a fresh install of Mavericks leaving the past behind.

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